Hawaii (sometimes pronounced ha-VAI-ee by locals) is the 50th state of the United States of America. Situated nearly at the center of the north Pacific Ocean, Hawaii marks the northeast corner of Polynesia. While it was once a major hub for the whaling, sugar and pineapple industries, it is now economically dependent on tourism and the U.S. military. The natural beauty of the islands continues to be one of Hawaii's greatest assets. Honolulu is the state's capital, largest city, and cultural hub.
Hawai'i is an archipelago of over nineteen distinct volcanic islands located over a geological "hot spot" in the Central Pacific. The Pacific plate on which the islands ride moves to the northwest, so in general the islands are older and smaller (due to erosion) as you move from southeast to northwest. There are eight major islands, six of which are open to tourism.
- Hawaii, the "Big Island," is the largest of the islands.
- Oahu, nicknamed "the Gathering Place," is the most populous and developed island. Its southern shore is home to the city of Honolulu; four out of every five Hawaii residents call it home. It is the governmental and commercial center of the state, and Waikiki Beach is arguably the best known tourist destination in Hawaii. Outside the city are pineapple fields, and the North Shore of Oahu, which is known each winter as the home of some of the largest waves in the world. The USS Arizona National Memorial at Pearl Harbor is also very popular visitor destination.
- Maui is the second largest island in the chain and is home to 10,023 foot (3,055 m) tall volcanic mountain crater of Haleakala. It is nicknamed "the Valley Isle" for the narrow plain between Haleakala and the West Maui mountains. On the west side of the island are the resort areas of Lahaina, Kaanapali, Kihei, and Wailea. On the east side is the tiny village of Hana, reached by one of the most winding and beautiful roads in the world.
- Kauai, the "Garden Isle," is home to several natural wonders, such as the Wailua River, Waimea Canyon, and the Na Pali Coast. Mount Waialeale is known as one of the rainiest spots in the world.
- Molokai, the "Friendly Isle," is one of the least developed islands in the chain. It is home to Kalaupapa, the leper colony on Molokai's north shore that was the home of Father Damien.
- Lanai was at one time completely owned by Dole Foods and was the largest pineapple plantation in the world; it is now home to several exclusive resorts.
- Niihau  is a privately owned island with an entirely Native Hawaiian population. Until very recently, the island was off limits to all but family members and invited guests of the owners. Tourism to the island is limited to Helicopter, ATV, and hunting excursions originating on Kauai.
- Kahoolawe, which was once a former US Navy bombing range, remains uninhabited. Efforts are being made to rehabilitate the island, but cleanup efforts continue.
These are some of the bigger cities in Hawaii.
- Honolulu on Oahu
- Kahuku on Oahu
- Kailua on Oahu
- Lihue on Kauai
- Lahaina on Maui
- Kahului on Maui
- Wailuku on Maui
- Hilo on the Big Island
- Kailua-Kona on the Big Island
- Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail on the Big Island
- Haleakala National Park on Maui
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island
- Kalaupapa National Historical Park on Molokai
- Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park on the Big Island
- Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park on the Big Island
- Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site on the Big Island
- Waipio Valley on the Big Island
- USS Arizona National Memorial on Oahu
- Waimea Canyon on Kauai
- NaPali Coast on Kauai
Where tourism is concerned, Hawaii has something for everyone. The island of Oahu, the most populous and home to the state capital and largest city of Honolulu, is great for people who wish to experience the islands and still keep the conveniences of a large city. Rainforests and hiking trails are located just minutes from Waikiki Beach, one of the world's best tourist destinations. In the winter, large waves on Oahu's north shore turn the normally sleepy area into the surfing capital of the world.
On the other hand, those who wish to experience Hawaii at a slower pace would do well to visit one of the Neighbor Islands (the other, less populated islands around Oahu). All the neighbor islands offer opportunities to relax and enjoy the sun and scenery. Many of the natural wonders of the Islands are located on the Neighbor Islands, from Waimea Canyon on Kauai, to Haleakala on Maui, to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. Numerous waterfalls and rainforests evoke memories of what the islands might have looked like before major corporations set their sights on Hawaii.
Polynesians migrated to, and established communities on, the islands of Hawaii before the arrival of Captain James Cook in 1778, who is widely credited as the first European visitor to the islands. At that time, each island was a separate kingdom. With the support of western advisors and weapons, Kamehameha I of the island of Hawaii conquered all the islands except Kauai, which acquiesced to his rule in 1810.
After Kamehameha II abolished the kapu (taboo) system, American missionaries came to the islands to spread Christianity. Their children would later become successful businessmen in the Islands. Pineapple and sugar cane plantations were established, and workers from other countries (in particular Japan, the Philippines, China, and Korea) were imported as contract laborers. Later, their descendants would also become established as successful professionals.
The Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown in 1893 by a group of American businessmen. While the U.S. administration at the time refused to annex the former sovereign nation, in 1898 the United States did annex the islands, which became a territory in 1900, and a state of the United States in 1959.
Hawaii also became an important outpost for the U.S. military through the 20th century, and Pearl Harbor was the site of the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941, that forced the U.S. into World War II. Today, the military maintains its presence here, with several major military bases on the island of Oahu alone; Pearl Harbor remains the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Over the years, many major retail chains have expanded their presence in Hawaii, making the Islands look more and more like the continental United States, often at the expense of local businesses. Nevertheless, Hawaii remains culturally vibrant. Its population, descended from the Native Hawaiians, the original plantation workers, and more recent arrivals, and in which no one group has a majority, is often cited as an example of multiculturalism at its best. There is a strong commitment to perpetuating native Hawaiian cultural traditions, as well as the cultural heritage of Hawaii's many immigrant communities from the Pacific, Asia and Europe. And certainly the environment is conducive to longevity...Hawaii has the longest predicted life expectancies of any U.S. state.
Depending on where you're located in Hawaii, the weather can be very different over even short distances. On the same day, on Oahu you might find sun over the beaches in Waikiki and rain only a few miles away in Manoa Valley.
Although the islands receive abundant amounts of both sunshine and rain, rain is more likely on the north and east sides of the islands, which face the prevailing northeasterly tradewinds (the "windward" side of the island), as well as the mountain peaks and valleys. The moist tropical air carried by the tradewinds is forced upward by the mountains, resulting in clouds and rain. Rain is less likely on the coastal areas of the "leeward" sides (the south and west sides) of the islands.
Although there are no true "seasons" in the islands in the same sense as the rest of the U.S., the climate does go through annual cycles based on rainfall. The "wet" season in Hawaii (cooler temperatures and more rainfall) runs roughly from October to March, and the "dry" season (warmer temperatures and less rainfall) from April to September. There is therefore a higher probability of rain if you visit during the peak of tourist season in late December or January.
Hurricane season in the islands runs from June to November. Although Hawaii's relative isolation means that it is affected only rarely by tropical cyclones, a destructive storm will occasionally hit the Islands, such as Hurricanes Iwa and Iniki hitting Kauai in 1982 and 1992.
Overall, Hawaii is warm and balmy - when you step out of the plane you'll immediately notice that the air is soft and humid - and during the summer months the tradewinds provide a pleasant breeze. Daytime temperatures generally range from the low-80s (27°C) in "winter" to the high 80s (31°C) in "summer". Ocean temperatures range between 77° (25°C) degrees in the winter to 82° (28°) in the summer. There is usually no more than a 20-degree Fahrenheit (12°C) difference between daytime high and nighttime low temperatures.
Consequently, besides your driver's license, credit card, camera, binoculars, and other essentials, it's best to keep your clothes to a minimum... a jacket, sweater, one or two pair of washable slacks/shorts, walking shoes, sandals and swim gear. Sunscreen is essential since Hawaii's close proximity to the Equator translates into very strong sun radiation. The suitcase space you save can be used to fill up on island purchases.
As Hawaii is one of the 50 United States, flights to Hawaii from the U.S. Mainland are considered domestic flights. Therefore, it is not necessary for U.S. citizens or legal immigrants to show a passport (or any documentation of U.S. citizenship or immigration status) when entering Hawaii from the U.S. Mainland. It is also not necessary for foreign visitors arriving from the U.S. Mainland to show passports or visas (U.S. entry formalities are done at the port of entry). The only paperwork that you'll be asked to fill out is required by the U.S. and Hawaii state departments of agriculture to prevent harmful plant pests and diseases from coming into Hawaii. Any fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, and the like need to be declared and inspected by Department of Agriculture personnel at your port of arrival; some items may be prohibited from entering Hawaii at all. Penalties for non-compliance are stiff. Avoid bringing such items with you if at all possible. It's not worth the hassle.
When leaving Hawaii for the U.S. Mainland, all baggage must be inspected by U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors at the airport. Be advised that fresh fruits (with the exception of pineapples and treated papayas) are prohibited from leaving the islands to prevent the spread of fruit flies. Consult the U.S. Department of Agriculture for more details. Bags are inspected by X-ray, so depending on the airport you leave from and the airline, be prepared to submit to as many as three checkpoints on the way to your Mainland flight: having your checked bags X-rayed in the ticket lobby, the TSA security checkpoint, and perhaps a separate carry-on bag inspection on the way to your gate.
Hawaii does not observe Daylight Saving Time.
Most flights from the mainland US and almost all international flights land in Honolulu on the island of Oahu. Direct service from the mainland is also available to Kahului on Maui, Kona on the Big Island, and Lihue on Kauai as well.
Depending on the airline, nonstop flights to Honolulu leave from most major gateway airports on the West Coast (as well as some smaller ones), as well as many major airports in the Midwest and East Coast. The flight from Los Angeles or San Francisco takes about 5 hours, comparable to a flight between the West and East Coasts. Thus, a flight from New York can take about 10.5 hours.
While the days where everyone arrived in Hawaii by boat are long gone, there are limited numbers of trans-Pacific cruises to Hawaii that leave from ports on the West Coast. However, one fascinating way to experience Hawaii is by taking a cruise ship between the islands (see Get around: By boat).
Hawaii has a very strong tourist infrastructure with hundreds of hotels, condos, vacation homes and bed & breakfasts. There are several resorts state wide - planned development areas that usually include condos, hotels, golf courses, and vacation homes. These include the Mauna Lani and Waikoloa resorts on the Big Island; Wailea, Kapalua and Kaanapali resorts on Maui; the Ko Olina, Turtle Bay and Hilton Hawaiian Village resorts on Oahu; and the Princeville resort on Kauai. Many accommodation options can be found outside resort areas as well.
- Mauna Lani Resort, Kohala Coast, Big Island .
- Waikoloa Beach Resort, Kohala Coast, Big Island .
- Wailea Resort, Wailea, Maui .
- Kapalua Resort, Kapalua, Maui.
- Kaanapali Resort, Lahaina, Maui .
- Turtle Bay Resort, Kahuku, Oahu .
- Ko Olina Resort, Kapolei, Oahu .
- Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort, Waikiki, Oahu []
- Princeville Resort, Princeville, Kauai .
- HawaiiGaga, Hawaii's vacation rentals and condos .
- Hawaii Hotel and Lodging Association .
Because Hawaii is an archipelago, air travel is, for the most part, compulsory for traveling within the state. Four inter-island airlines, Hawaiian Airlines , Island Air , Pacific Wings , and go!  (a subsidiary of Mesa Air) provide virtually all flights between the islands. Go! started service in June 2006, positioning itself as a discount carrier. Consequently, as of summer 2006, there is a fare war underway between the four carriers; round-trip fares can be as low as about US$60 roundtrip, about half of what the going fare was in 2005. Travelers can save money and time by planning "triangle routes" that arrive in Hawaii on one island and leave on another.
Flight times run anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes. Flights can usually be purchased a day or two before departure, although this may increase the cost of traveling.
Hawaii Superferry  runs a ferry between Oahu and Maui daily. Scheduled journey time is three hours for both Oahu-Maui. Advance-purchase off-peak (weekday) fares start from $44 for passengers and $59 for a car, not including varying fuel surcharges (~30%). There was a Kauai-Oahu route, but it has been indefinitely suspended by Superferry, Inc. because of community concerns following legal challenges and pending the completion of a court-ordered environmental impact statement. A route from Oahu and the Island of Hawaii will begin in 2009.
Charter boats sail and motor between some islands, especially the Maui-Molokai-Lanai area. But, crossing the channels between islands can be extremely rough going, even for Superferry passengers. Because of this, a few charter companies specialize in having boats delivered inter island and can meet you at your destination.
Norwegian Cruise Lines operates both U.S.-flagged and foreign flagged cruise ships between the islands. By February 2007 Maui departures are being eliminated, leaving Honolulu Harbor as the sole originating port. The ship is called Pride of America.
On Oahu there is an excellent public transportation system TheBus . You can buy a booklet called "TheBus" at local ABC Stores  giving route information on how to get around the island. Route Schedules  are also available on The Bus Website . Public transportation systems are less developed on the Neighbor Islands.
If you want to take your car to Hawaii, it will either need to be amphibious or freighted by ship, making this infeasible unless you plan a long-term stay in Hawaii. However, Hawaii is the only state that honors all other US state vehicle licenses until they expire.
Car rentals should be booked as soon as possible as the price charged is based on a supply/demand basis. The exception is Waikiki where you will not need a car on a permanent basis so just rent a car the day before you want one. Collision insurance coverage is very expensive through car rental companies (it can easily double your daily rate or more). Consider using a credit card with collision coverage. All U.S.-issued consumer Visa credit (but not debit) cards, many MasterCard cards and some American Express cards include secondary collision coverage; some American Express, Visa business and Diners Club cards offer primary coverage. Alternatively or additionally, prior to your trip, verify that both collision and liability (also called third-party) coverage from your own auto insurance company extends to rental cars. Car rental rates for 5 or 6 day periods are often the same as 7 day rentals. Use a credit card that includes medical and trip cancellation insurance benefits; if you cannot, consider buying trip insurance from your flight travel agent. View more on Hawaii car rental insurance . International tourists with non US credit cards are not covered by the above. By clicking on your country of origin when obtaining a quote from the car rental company's website, often an inclusive quote with loss damage waiver and supplemental libability insurance is provided. Otherwise using a travel agent website within your country eg your local Expedia website or local car hire broker will often also include insurance in their quote.
Gasoline, while nowhere near the prices charged in Europe, is significantly more expensive in Hawaii than on the U.S. Mainland. Expect to pay about 10% more than the prevailing rate on the Mainland for gasoline in Honolulu. Neighbor Island prices can be as much as 10-15% above that.
Scooters are also an excellent alternative to getting around the islands. Rental rates are fairly cheap (about $50/day). The scooters are also fun to ride and are cheap on gas!
English is the main spoken language. There are some subtle differences in usage (see below), but standard English is universally understood in Hawaii. Hawaiian "pidgin" English, spoken by many locals, incorporates bits of Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Portuguese and many other languages, in addition to its own unique idioms. As Japan is the most important international tourist market in Hawaii, many tourist destinations offer information in Japanese and have personnel who can speak Japanese. There are also many ethnic communities that speak languages such as Mandarin, Cantonese, Tagalog, Ilocano, Vietnamese, Korean, Samoan and the native Hawaiian language.
Learning a few words of Hawaiian can be fun and useful. Some signs in Hawaii use Hawaiian words, and most street signs use Hawaiian names. The following is a brief primer on Hawaiian pronunciation:
- a as in father
- e as in red
- i as in machine
- o as in phone
- u as in fruit
- ai, ae roughly like the igh in high
- au, ao roughly like the ow in cow
- ei roughly the ay in hay
- ou roughly like the o sound in boat.
The Hawaiian alphabet consists of 13 characters: all 5 vowels plus 8 consonants (h, k, l, m, n, p, w, and the apostrophe) which are generally pronounced in Hawaiian as they are in English, except that w can also take on the sound of v in certain words and the apostrophe is a glottal stop (which has the speaker curtailing the flow of air and resuming as though speaking two separate words).
Each vowel or diphthong is pronounced separately. For instance, the highway connecting Honolulu and Kaneohe on Oahu is called the Likelike Highway, and is pronounced LEE-keh-LEE-keh, NOT like-like.
You will often see an apostrophe-like symbol in some words. This symbol, called the 'okina, means that the following vowel is pronounced with a catch in the throat, much like the sounds in "uh-oh" are separated. A line above a vowel means that the vowel is extended and stressed.
Some useful words include:
- Aloha. (ah-LOH-hah)
- Aloha. (ah-LOH-hah)
- aloha (ah-LOH-hah) (So you indirectly refer to "love" when you first see someone and when they have to go)
- Thank you.
- Mahalo. (mah-HAH-loh). (Although this word is found on fast food trash receptacles around the islands, it does not mean "trash".)
- finished, done
- Pau. (pa-oo)
- kokua (koh-KOO-ah)
- wahine (wah-HEE-ne)
- kane (kah-ne)
- keiki (KAY-kee)
- local resident
- kama'aina (kah-mah-EYE-nah)
- haole (HOW-le). (This can be an offensive term depending on context.)
- toward the mountains
- mauka (ma-OO-kah)
- toward the ocean
- makai (mah-KIGH)
As mentioned above, standard English is understood in Hawaii, and Hawaii residents are generally very friendly. However, there are some subtle differences in word usage. When talking with Hawaii residents, be aware of the following differences in word usage to avoid miscommunications. Also see Respect below.
- Always refer to the continental United States as "the Mainland" rather than "the States." For instance, say "Back on the Mainland..." instead of "Back in the States..." Hawaii has been one of "the States" since 1959, and the Hawaiian sovereignty movement notwithstanding (see Respect below), most Hawaii residents are proud to be part of the United States. Using the term "the States" (implying that Hawaii is somehow foreign) may be seen as naive at best and condescending at worst. However, don't be surprised if some local people are condescending towards you because you are from the mainland. The "local" vs. "mainland" difference is something local people are only too happy to point out.
- Residents of Hawaii do not necessarily consider themselves "Hawaiian." For instance, when asking a Hawaii resident, "Are you a native Hawaiian?" don't be surprised if his reply is "No, I'm Japanese." On the Mainland, for example, a Californian means any person who lives in (or has ties to) California. However, in Hawaii, the terms "Hawaiian" or "native Hawaiian" are reserved to mean someone who is descended from the aboriginal people of Hawaii. This definition even appears in state laws. Because Hawaii is made of people of various ethnicities, someone whose family may have lived in Hawaii for generations may still not be Hawaiian by the above definition. To avoid misunderstanding, it is best to refer to Hawaii residents as such, or as Islanders, "locals", or kama'aina (as above), unless you know for a fact that they are of native Hawaiian descent.
As in the rest of the United States, U.S. dollars are the local currency. There are plenty of banks, ATMs, and money change offices in all cities. ATMs are scarcer on the North Shore of Oahu and other rural areas. Note that because Hawaii is an island and transporting goods to Hawaii is more difficult, the prices for most goods (with the exception of Macadamia nuts and pineapples) are more expensive.
Hawaii has a 4% general excise tax statewide on the gross income of all businesses, which is generally passed on the consumer as a de facto 4.166% "sales tax." (The slight increase because they're taxed for collecting this "tax"!) As of January 1, 2007, the City and County of Honolulu adds an additional half-percent on the excise tax rate, making the "sales tax" rate on Oahu 4.712%.
Other than the stereotypical grass skirt (which is not generally worn in Hawaii except by hula dancers), no pieces of clothing are more associated with the Islands than the aloha shirt and the muumuu.
The ever-present aloha shirt comes in a wide variety of designs. On one end, there are the brightly colored, tourist-oriented, polyester aloha shirts that many stores throughout the Islands carry. On the other end of the spectrum are the type of collared aloha shirts that have become standard business attire among career professionals in Hawaii, in the same way that the business suit is on the mainland. These aloha shirts are usually cotton-polyester blend and are "reverse print." Reverse print means that the design is printed on the inside of the shirt, resulting in a more muted, businesslike look.
For females, the muumuu is a long Hawaiian dress, usually made of cotton, that hangs loosely from the shoulder.
Several island companies specialize in aloha shirts and muumuus:
- Hilo Hattie  sells both aloha shirts and muumuus as well as other island merchandise.
- Reyn's  pioneered the "reverse print" concept in aloha shirts, and has locations throughout the islands with its flagship store in Ala Moana Center in Honolulu.
- PapayaSun  carries a huge selection of sexy hawaiian dresses, hawaiian shirts with matching boy and girl hawaiian clothing without a huge price.
A special note on shoes: The item commonly referred to on the US mainland as a "sandal" or "flip-flop" (or more limited "thong") are called on the islands a "slipper" or "slippa". Using a mainland term for the shoe will get you a quizzical look from locals. Call them by their island name and they will instantly know what you are talking about.
Made in Hawaii
One of the most popular souvenirs to buy in Hawaii are locally made Hawaiian bath & body products. The islands of Hawaii feature some of the most unique and refreshing fragrances in the world which you can easily find in Hawaiian shampoos, body lotions, soaps, oils, incense, floating candles, and much more.
Several island companies specialize in Hawaii made bath & body products:
- Forever Florals  sells a wide variety of Hawaiian bath & body products including shampoos, soaps, body lotions, oils, and more.
Hiking / Eco Tours
- Native Guide Hawaii  Tel: (808) 982-7575 Family friendly, educational, personal tours on the Big Island of Hawaii. Hilo native, Warren Costa, does a great job of interpreting the unique geological, cultural, and natural features of the island.
Helicopter / Air Tours
- Girls Who Surf  Tel: (808) 772-4583 Lessons include equipment, instruction, and are conducted away from the crowds at Waikiki. The friendly, professionally certified staff caters to women, men, children, visitors, and residents on the island of Oahu.
- Pearl Harbor Memorial Tours - Pearl Harbor and Island tours 
- Hawaii Inter-Island Tours - One Day Hawaii Inter island Tours 
- Big Island Day Tour - Day Tours from Oahu 
- Big Island of Hawaii Volcano Tour - Hawaii Kilauea Volcano Tours 
- Maui Road to Hana Tour - Guided and Narrated Tour of Maui's Road to Hana 
- Polynesian Cultural Center - Tours of the Polynesian Cultural Center 
- Polynesian Cultural Center - Polynesian Cultural Center Official Site 
- USS Missouri Battleship Tour - USS Missouri tours 
- Oahu North Shore Tour - Guided and Narrated Tour to the North Shore of Oahu 
Swim with The Dolphins at Sea Life Park 
Whale Watching, Dolphin Encounters and Snorkeling, see: 
Arts, Concerts, and Nightlife
Hawaii has a thriving scene of art, theatre, concerts, clubs, bars, and other events and entertainment.
Tourists who want to get a taste of Hawaiian culture can sign up for classes in hula, surfing and lei-making at most tourist destinations.
There also a number of cultural and historical centers on Oahu well worth your time, such as the Bishop Museum and Iolani Palace.
If you have the money, the time and the inclination, the Polynesian Cultural Center provides a window into Polynesian culture. As its name implies, the Polynesian Cultural Center covers not just Hawaii but also the cultures of Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Easter Island and the Maori people of New Zealand.
The outer islands also have destinations such as Maui Center for Culture and the Arts and the Big Island has the Hilo Art Museum. the Lyman House Museum and the Pacific Tsunami Museum as well as the University of Hawaii's 'Imiloa Astronomy Center.
The unemployment rate is very low in Hawaii. Hawaii is not an easy place to legally find casual work for non-US work permit holders. To apply for a local government job, by law you must be a Hawaii resident. This is changing though. Currently, police officer applicants do not have to be residents.
Contemporary food in Hawaii, like the language and popular culture, is a medley of traditional Hawaiian, Portugese, American, and Asian Pacific flavors. Pacific "fusion" cuisine was largely invented in Hawaii. Well-known local chefs include Sam Choy, Alan Wong, Russell Siu, Roy Yamaguchi, and George "Chef Mavro" Mavrothalassitis. Seafood is, of course, fresh and tasty. Local beef comes from ranches on Maui and coffee is grown on the Big Island. Tropical fruits such as pineapple, mango, bananas, guavas, and papaya - as well as fresh sugar cane, can be bought in most corner stores (although you may be surprised to learn that many of those fruits are now imported from distant locales such as The Philippines & Brazil).
One of the most common ways that local food is served is in the form of plate lunch, usually meat or fish with two scoops of rice and macaroni salad. It's always a good deal at any lunch wagon, mall, or outside food court. L&L Drive Inn  and Zippy's  are probably the most widely distributed chain of plate lunch spots in the Hawaiian islands. Branches of L&L are in some locations on the Mainland as well (as L&L Hawaiian Barbecue).
Another way of enjoying local food when roaming around the island is to keep an eye out for the converted trucks/vans that are parked in their regular spots in gas station parking lots, some parks and a variety of places on the island. They offer the "plate lunches", are popular with the locals and provide great meals (on plastic plates} at very reasonable prices. There is no reason to fear them, they are very common and popular.
Perhaps the best setting for tourists to enjoy traditional Hawaiian food is at a luau, or a traditional Hawaiian feast. Tourists can find luaus at various locations in the Islands, including many of the major resort hotels. At a modern luau traditional Hawaiian favorites are served buffet style, and there is also Hawaiian music, hula, and other Polynesian entertainment. The downside is that they can be pricey and prices can vary widely; expect to pay between USD $50 and $90 per adult and about half that per child.
Dishes that are often found at luaus include:
- Lomi salmon, salted salmon mixed with tomatoes, onions, & pepper; like an island salsa
- Kalua pig, pork wrapped in banana leaves and steamed inside an imu (ground boiler); similar to pulled pork
- Pipi kaula, Hawaiian style beef jerky
- Poi, ground and boiled taro root paste
- Laulau, pork & butterfish (black cod) wrapped in ti leaves then steamed
- Luau, seafood (often squid) prepared in a mixture of boiled taro leaves and coconut milk
- Haupia, a gelatin-like dessert prepared from thickened coconut milk
Other local dishes include favorites such as the following:
- Ahi, tuna, excellent as sashimi (Japanese style sliced raw fish) or as poke (chopped and seasoned raw fish).
- Mahi Mahi or dolphin fish, served as a steak, sandwich, or in almost-raw thin strips .
- Ono, A type of fish also known as wahoo. Not coincidentally, the name resembles the Hawaiian word for "delicious."
- Shave ice, an island version of snow cones made from finely shaved ice, comes in lots of ono flavors. Order your shave ice with azuki beans and/or a scoop of ice cream.
- Saimin, Hawaii's version of noodle soup or ramen.
- Malasada, Fried bread rolled in plenty of sugar, often sold at special events. Portugese origin.
- Manapua, local name for a popular type of Chinese dim-sum otherwise known as "char-siu-bao". Cured sweet pork wrapped in soft white bread.
- Spam musubi, an unorthodox variant of Japanese riceballs (musubi), composed of salted rice formed into a rectangular shape and topped with spam, wrapped in seaweed. Popular enough to be sold in every Hawaiian 7-11.
- Chicken/Pork Adobo, Filipino dish widely offered and appreciated in Hawaii.
If you are roaming the island away from tourist areas, you may find restaurants are scarce. Many of the numerous golf courses have dining rooms open to the public that offer great meals at very good prices. They seem to welcome the non-golfer. For specific places at which to eat, see the individual island or city articles. Be sure to check the coupon books that are available at display stands for meal specials.
Beer: there are a number of excellent local brewpubs in Hawaii. Mehana, Sam Choy's, Honu, Waimea Brewing Company, Keoki's and Kona Brewing Company all brew beer in Hawaii or brew it on the mainland and ship it to the islands. The largest of the group is Kona Brewing, which has won several national awards and runs two brew pub / restaurants in the islands (one in Kailua Kona, the other in Hawaii Kai on Oahu).
Theft is a big problem in cities as well as beaches and parks. If you are camping on a beach, keep bags locked in a car (but don't assume that they are safe in the trunk, especially if you are driving a rental) and keep valuables in a hidden money belt. Although Hawaii is generally considered relatively safe, it does have some violent crime. Consequently, women should not walk alone in unlit areas. Although Honolulu has one of the lowest violent crime rates of metro areas in the U.S., use your common sense. Stay smart and act as if you were in your own home city: lock doors, lock cars, and don't leave valuables lying around.
Hospitals in Hawaii meet U.S. standards for care, and can be found in the urban areas of each island. The hospitals in Honolulu are larger and have the most advanced equipment; the hospitals on the neighbor islands provide general care. There is currently a shortage of specialists on the Neighbor Islands. Depending on where you are and how serious your condition is, be advised that you may need to be medically evacuated to Honolulu for treatment.
The main tourist areas of each island have walk-in urgent care clinics where you can receive non-emergency treatment for whatever ails you. Some clinics even make hotel room calls. Check with the local phone book or your hotel. In Waikiki, try Doctors on Call (808-971-6000). The clinic is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you plan to go hiking in the backcountry or go swimming in freshwater pools in Hawaii, be advised of the risk of catching leptospirosis. Leptospirosis generally causes flu-like symptoms; in rare cases it can be fatal; the incubation period can be from 2-30 days after exposure. Do not swim in freshwater pools if you have open sores; see a doctor if you develop flu-like symptoms after hiking or swimming.
Be sure to have travel health insurance. If you are a U.S. resident with private health insurance, you should consult your insurance carrier to determine what copayments apply and to what extent your insurance is accepted in Hawaii by doctors and hospitals in the event you need health care while on your trip. See Stay healthy in United States of America for more information.
When going to the beach/swimming always wear suntan lotion or sun guard to protect your skin from burns.
In general, American standards of etiquette (see Respect in United States of America) apply in Hawaii. Hawaii, however, has certain cultural differences, owing to the Native Hawaiians and the large population of Asians and people of Asian descent.
- As is the custom in many Asian countries, always remove your footwear when entering the home of an island resident, if so invited.
- Hawaiian culture should be respected and travellers should be sensitive to the state's rich cultural heritage and diversity - and the fact that the tourist experience of Hawaiian culture may only scratch the surface. For instance, there are many heiau (temples) in the Islands, where the ancient Hawaiian religion was practiced. Some of these have become tourist attractions in their own right, but visitors should nevertheless treat these places with the same level of respect one would show at a place of worship.
- If you visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, you will no doubt hear about Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes. An urban legend has it that people who have taken volcanic rock from the slopes of Mauna Loa or Kilauea have suffered various misfortunes; it is believed that it is the wrath of Pele. In any case, it is illegal to take rocks or other material from a national park.
- Also, the status of Native Hawaiians vis-a-vis the U.S. federal government has become a hot topic in recent years, with some Native Hawaiian groups seeking a degree of sovereignty for the Hawaiian people as redress for the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and U.S. annexation in the 1890s. (Honolulu is home to the only royal palace on U.S. soil.) There is currently no consensus among Native Hawaiians on what form this sovereignty should take, with some preferring the status quo of ordinary citizenship, some seeking a status similar to that of Native Americans, and some wanting complete independence and secession from the Union. In addition, private and government programs that benefit Native Hawaiians have been called into question via a series of lawsuits that have received extensive coverage in local media. Discussions of Hawaiian sovereignty and programs can arouse a variety of strong opinions (both in support and in opposition) among Hawaii residents of all ethnicities, and the uninitiated visitor would be wise to avoid bringing up these topics in casual conversation.
Some Native Hawaiians may attribute accidents caused by nature (such as a landslide at Sacred Falls that killed several people) to the Menehune punishing tourists disrespecting the land. Menehune or not, Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places in the world and its sites deserve our respect. Bottom line: respect the land and the people; there may be more there than meets the eye.
Hawaii uses the US postal system. Internet access can be found in most tourist areas and many hotels. General wi-fi access is available only at select hotels and cafes. The public libraries offer Internet access, but only for library cardholders. Visitors may purchase a 3-month library card for $10.00.
Hawaii's area code is 808. When dialing any off-island telephone number, dial 1 + area code + phone number. You must include the 808 area code when calling another island.
Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean Hawaii has few nearby neighbors.
- California - The point of departure for many visitors for the continental United States.
- Oceania - Hawaii can be a stepping off point to explore the many islands of the Pacific as well as the countries of Australia and New Zealand.
This page was last edited at 19:35, on 22 March 2009 by Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel. Based on work by Ryan Holliday, Omar P, Keith K. Higa and Ian Sergeant, Wikitravel user(s) Huttite, Jonathan 784, Neolights09 and Mrs esterhauzen, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.